Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Insists on Returning to Work




Ignoring doctors' advice to spend another week in a sanatorium, President Boris Yeltsin gave himself a clean bill of health Monday and promised to be back at work Tuesday morning.


"Tomorrow I am leaving for the Kremlin and going to work," Yeltsin said in televised remarks before a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.


The 66-year-old Russian leader has been a quarrelsome patient since taking residence at the government's Barvikha sanatorium outside Moscow on Dec. 10 with what the Kremlin is calling a cold.


He has thorny problems waiting for him at the office, including the 1998 budget, his promise to pay back wages to government workers by Jan. 1, and a Friday meeting with ministers and Communist opposition leaders over whether to allow private sales of agricultural land.


He first threatened to check himself out of Barvikha on Thursday, and only pressure from family and doctors convinced Yeltsin to spend the weekend under medics' care.


Despite Kremlin reports that he spends several hours each day on work-related papers, Yeltsin's patience with the peace and quiet of his sanatorium is clearly wearing thin.


"Everything is fine, there are no traces of the illness left," he said Monday.


Others are not so sure. U.S. heart specialist Michael DeBakey, who acted as senior adviser for Yeltsin's Nov. 5, 1996, quintuple bypass operation, said Friday that doctors wanted to keep Yeltsin in their care until the end of the year.


Yeltsin underwent a heart exam last Friday. While his bypasses were reported to be clear and his heart unaffected by his illness, Yeltsin was told he needed more time in bed.


The Kremlin had hinted this weekend that Yeltsin was cooperating with his doctors, and had even scheduled a vacation early next month to finish his convalescence.


Haste to leave the hospital nearly cost Yeltsin his life earlier this year. Still convalescing from the heart operation, Yeltsin went ice fishing last January and developed double pneumonia. It sent him to Barvikha for another two months.


After spending almost nine months away from work at the start of his second term, Yeltsin was coming back strong until catching cold in Sweden two weeks ago.


Yeltsin spent 95 minutes talking with Chernomyrdin about Russia's financial woes. The Kremlin said he was particularly concerned about progress on his pledge to pay back salaries to all teachers, doctors and other government workers by New Year's Day.


Chernomyrdin promised that wage arrears will be payed back in time.


Yeltsin has a slew of issues to tackle after a 12-day Kremlin absence. He has already scheduled a much-awaited round table meeting with ministers and parliamentary deputies to discuss a new land code. The meeting had been canceled because of Yeltsin's illness.


Besides negotiating with parliament, Yeltsin's presence is essential in Moscow to keep his own supporters from breaking out into fights.


As has happened before when Yeltsin falls ill, another scandal rocked the Kremlin last week as senior officials accused First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais of leaking ostensibly secret financial information to the International Monetary Fund.


The scandal pits Chubais against arch-foe Boris Berezovsky, a business tycoon who this fall was ousted from a Kremlin security post.


Chubais is accused of leaking tax information to the IMF so it would put pressure on the Russian authorities to seize one of Berezovsky's companies for back taxes. Articles about the supposed leak appeared Friday and Saturday in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which is funded by Berezovsky.


Yeltsin on Monday named a permanent replacement for fired privatization chief Maxim Boiko. Farit Gazizullin a Chubais ally, was Boiko's deputy before Boiko and three others were fired this fall for accepting a huge book fee from a company run by a politically connected bank. (See story, page 12).